Whether you are a parent, teacher, or an avid radio listener you have more than likely been exposed to the conversation of closing the “vocabulary gap” between the rich and the poor and expanding children’s vocabularies.
In the event you haven’t caught wind of the conversation, let us catch you up to speed with the cold, hard facts:
In a typical hour, a child on welfare will hear 616 words, whereas a child from a professional family will hear 2,153 words. In one week, a child on welfare will hear 62,000 words and a child in a professional family will hear 215,000. And in a matter of 4 years, children on welfare will hear 13 million words and professional children will hear 45 million words [Hart & Risley, 1995].
The amount of words children hear has a direct impact on the amount of words they understand and can use – their functional vocabulary.
While “vocabulary” may not be at the forefront of your mind, it has a direct impact on the course of one’s life. And the truth is, this all starts at an early age.
According to research, the vocabulary of a child entering first grade predicts not only their reading ability at the end of first grade, but at the end of 11th grade as well. In addition, the reading ability of a child in third grade is predictive of high school graduation and college attendance. Essentially, literacy represents a key factor of economic success.
A strong vocabulary can be the difference between becoming a cashier or an accountant, a hostess at a restaurant or a business owner, or a dishwasher vs. a politician.
So what does this mean?
If we truly want to give our children the best opportunity to succeed in this world, we must invest in expanding their vocabularies. With technology on our side, we no longer have to depend on expensive resources only attainable by those with money. Technology has given us the opportunity to provide children from all socioeconomic backgrounds with tools that will expose them to more words, broaden their vocabularies, and equal the playing field for advancement into society.
For example, mobile devices like tablets have opened the door for resources such as Bright World eBooks to be easily accessible to everyone. While traditional learning tools cost hundreds of dollars, Bright World eBooks cost less than $3 and are accessible at the touch of a button. The apps feature unique qualities that broaden children’s vocabularies through nonfiction stories, interactive 3D exploration, and games.
As parents, educators, and child care professionals it’s vital that we are proactive in helping children develop broader vocabularies. Here are 3 tips from Dr. Dana Suskind, Founder and Director of Thirty Million Words, you can use alongside Bright World eBooks to help develop your child’s vocabulary:
1. Tune in by paying attention to what your child is focused on or communicating with you.
2. Talk more with your child using a lot of descriptive words to build your child’s vocabulary.
3. Take turns with your child by engaging him or her in conversation; conversation is not a one-way activity. It’s participatory by both parties.
Our mission at 3D Learning Group is to create resources for parents and teachers alike that can be used to expand and develop children’s vocabularies. Be sure to check out the unique features of our Bright World eBooks app coming out this June!
What are some things you do at home or in the classroom to help develop children’s vocabularies? We’d love to hear. Leave a comment below.
Cited Sources: Hart, B., & Risley, R. T. (1995). Meaningful differences in the everyday experience of young American children. Baltimore: Paul H. Brookes.